A cocker for all quarry
My shooting is mainly driven now, due to advancing years and a hip replacement. I am about to replace my old springer spaniel and fancy getting a cocker, having seen one or two out shooting, but wondered if it would be able to retrieve all game. I have watched one retrieve a hare, but is that an exception? Would it struggle with a cock runner, for instance?
A good working-strain cocker puppy from a reputable breeder should give you the best chance of success. Generally, cockers have a real willingness to please, are happy little dogs that are full of courage and love the company of humans. They cope naturally with attempting to retrieve any size of article, and with the correct training have no trouble with large 58 • SHOOTING TIMES & COUNTRY MAGAZINE game such as hares and cock pheasants. Most can also manage a goose, though it may be a drag rather than a carry.
My first good cocker, weighing 18lb when in prime working condition, would bring back all game, albeit with a little difficulty and needing the occasional rest when carrying a lively hare. Of course, do not expect a cocker to fly over a gate with a hare in its mouth; it will usually find the path of least resistance underneath. But, allowing for those sorts of physical limitations, a cocker will try its very best to get everything back to hand.
I have used many different breeds at the peg, and with the correct training a cocker is as good as any other breed for this purpose and fits in the car with ease on the way home.
Go with your heart and success will be more likely, rather than trying to train a breed that you don’t particularly want. PR
A cock runner poses no problem for a good working-strain cocker